Saturday, September 24, 2011

EPA and Clean Air Act under Attack - again

The innocuous sounding Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (Train) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2401) is actually a thinly-disguised attempt initiated by Republicans to cripple the EPA, the only Federal agency directly responsible for implementation of the Clean Air Act. 

TRAIN represents the most significant attack on the Agency since Clean Air was signed into law by President Richard Nixon more than 40 years ago.  The Act would establish a cabinet-level Committee to analyze EPA regulations on “air, waste, water and climate change’ from a fiscal perspective.  TRAIN would also provide breathing room for utilities, especially coal-fired plants, by delaying implementation of EPA rules that would limit mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions (all known carcinogens) and seriously weaken cross-state pollution requirements.  Those utilities that profit from pollution fear enactment of the Rule would require the shutdown of outdated, pollution-belching plants across the country.     

While the Committee for Cumulative Analysis of Regulations and Impact Energy and Manufacturing in the United States would consist of the Secretarys of Treasury, Commerce, Labor and Energy as well as Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisors and FERC, Small Business Administration and the US International Trade Commission to consider regulatory impacts on the economy, Clear Air's requirement since 1970 has been to focus directly on public health concerns.  It is worth noting that neither the Secretary of Health and Human Services nor representative of any Federal public health agency are included as members of the Committee.   

Even as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation along with many public health organizations opposed the Act, Republicans refer to EPA as a ‘rogue agency’ in persistent denial of the connection between bad air and respiratory illness.  Touted under the guise of more efficient regulation via a cost benefit analysis, opponents of the EPA and the Clean Air Act apparently believe that they and their families are immune from smog and particulate matter that contributes to lung cancer, increased heart attacks and asthma as Rep. Jim Lankford (Ok) offered the lame assurance that Republicans were not ‘out to poison American children.”  Lankford later revealed he has a daughter with asthma.

Final passage adopted TRAIN on a 249 – 169 vote with an astounding 19 Democrats joining the Republicans in support.  Those Democratic Representatives willing to gamble with their constituents’ health including two members each of the black and Hispanic caucuses were Altmire (Pa), Barrow (Ga), Bishop (Ga), Boren (Ok), Boswell (Ia), Cardoza (Cal), Chandler (Ky), Costa (Calif), Costello (Ill), Critz (Pa), Cuellar (Tx), Donnelly (In), Holden (Pa), Matheson (Ut), McIntrye (NC), Peterson (Minn), Rahall (WVa), Ross (Ark), and Sewell (Ala).

While the President has promised to veto TRAIN if it reaches his desk, the Act now goes to the Senate for action or to be relegated to the ‘Passed the House but Never Made it to the Senate Floor’ bin of history.      

No comments: